Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fall 2013

Gosh time is flying. I can hardly believe another fall arrived. We are keeping busy this season. As usual, life picks back up from the lazy summer rhythm. I love the simple moments in life like picking pumpkins and raking leaves. Here are a few of our moments.

Gracie is waiting on the train to go to the top of Pike's Peak.

Jack waiting for the train to start moving.

Gracie watching the scenery pass on the way down the mountain.

The kids playing trucks with fallen leaves.

My little handy man making a leaf pile.

Picking pumpkins at the local patch.

Jack asking Gracie, "do you want this to be your pumpkin?"

These sillies would not be serious for a picture. 

Pumpkins on the porch and hugs that turn into tumbles. 

A warm home for these chilly fall nights. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

I don't often post recipes on my blog. Basically, I dislike plagiarism and will not post a recipe unless it was given to me by a friend or family member that I can credit, or if I create a new recipe. 

Last year I decided I wanted to make pumpkin muffins. I tried several recipes and was not satisfied with any of them. After many test batches I finally settled on the perfect pumpkin muffins for my family. These are muffins my children actually eat. I like the healthier ingredients like pumpkin and whole wheat flour balanced with the chocolate chips which entice my children. I also find the mixture of white and whole wheat flour creates a softer texture than just whole wheat flour alone. 

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 12 cup muffin pan.

Use two bowls. In the first bowl, mix both types of flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In the second bowl, mix eggs, milk, sugar, oil, vanilla and pumpkin. After mixing each thoroughly, combine the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir in the chocolate chips. 

Pour the batter into the 12 cup muffin pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes remove the muffins from pan onto a rack to finish cooling. 


I hope your family will enjoy this yummy fall treat. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

And Then I Missed the Point

Gifts of Joy. I had good intentions. I wanted to demonstrate how gratitude leads to joy. However, I lost the point of the exercise after the first few weeks. Instead of a practice of the heart and mind, it became an assignment. A way to show cute, smiling children and other moments during my week where I happened to remember to snap a photo. 

Actually, I like the idea of sharing pictures from our weeks to show our far away story to our family and friends. But that is a different exercise. An exercise I may continue, but with a different title. 

After a few weeks of posting my gifts, I began to think something about it felt pretentious. You know, like I am trying to point out how grateful I am. Which I am grateful. Really, I am. But I want to share my gratitude in a way that is genuine.

I am about to read Ann Voskamp's book "One Thousand Gifts" for the second time. The book is the foundation for counting gifts in the first place. It is the reason I need to review the exercise of gift counting. 

The point is not to show only the shiny, happy moments. The ones that look pretty and pulled together. For one thing, that is completely dishonest. My life is much more than pretty moments. My life is messy. It is full of poop and tears and dirty laundry. My days include whining, fighting, boredom and anxiety. I feel like I am failing and making all the wrong decisions so much of the time. Yes, I do have pretty moments. Kisses, smiling babies, sweet morning snuggles, food on the table, a beautiful home, a strong partner in this life. 

It is a crazy sweet mixture. But Voskamp's principal message is the more difficult task of finding joy in what she calls the beautiful ugly. In the moments that do not seem like gifts. Death, sickness, broken hearts, failure, disappointment. It is finding joy by being grateful even when life does not give us what we want. Even when life gives us things we aren't sure we can navigate. These are the moments I must also share. 

It isn't just pointing out the rainbow. It is being grateful for the storm even if the rainbow never arrives. It is being grateful for this life; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Because let's face it, a lot of this life is ugly. It is easy to count the bad things and be discontent. It takes a much more determined soul to see the gifts in all life's moments and in turn be joyful. To live with joy regardless of circumstance. Joy in tears. Joy in pain. Joy in triumph. Joy in the mundane. Joy because we are given this day. 

I missed the point. I need to share my reality and then demonstrate the work of determined joy. Because whether easy or hard, this life is a gift.